How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools

Did you know that most woodworkers, myself included in the past, well-sharpened chisels are a big deal? Many DIYers, handymen or even professionals work with chisels or hand planes that are not completely razor sharp.

Often it is not the knowledge to sharpen them that is missing, but the lack of time that causes this job to be postponed. That is why every woodworker should have this sharpening jig for hand tools in their workshop.

Lack of time is a problem that keeps you struggling with poorly cutting chisels or hand planes, unknowingly losing even more time.

After some research in my own workshop, I realized the real reason I avoided grinding in busy times: I was afraid of wasting too much time searching for everything needed to complete the task. So my biggest problem was not the grinding itself, but the organization.

Thanks to the sharpening stone holder you will discover in this article, the organizational problem will disappear completely, and cause me to sharpen a chisels or plane iron more and faster.

So today I want to reveal how I made this sharpening jig for hand tools, and maybe you can apply this tool to your workshop to get more organized.

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What is the benefit of making a sharpening jig for hand tools

Building this jig has the advantage that you will find all the necessary supplies in one location and won’t have to waste time looking for everything individually around your workshop, as you may have previously read in the introduction. Every time you do this, you will save a ton of time and frustration.

The advantages of this hand tool sharpening jig, however, don’t end there. The entire system is set up such that sharpening chisels or plane iron is quick and yields a large profit. You can go to the following step in the sharpening process by turning the jig a quarter turn each time.

The jig is equipped with anti-slip pads on the underside. That means it can be set firmly on the surface and will not shift during sharpening.

Also, all places for the sharpening stones are cut into the surface so that they have a fixed place and can be firmly anchored.

This ensures that you can get started safely. In the end, you deal with sharp chisels here, an accident can quickly happen if the jig would suddenly moves.

Watch the video here & learn how to make a sharpening jig for hand tools

Here you can watch the video and see how to make the sharpening jig for hand tools.
After watching the video, you can continue reading the step-by-step guide to making this sharpening jig for hand tools. 

How to make a sharpening jig for hand tools

In this part, I’ll show you step by step how I made this sharpening jig for hand tools and give you some useful tips that you can use when building the jig.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

Step 1 | Cutting the base

How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools - Base board
How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools – Base board

As a base I took a piece of birch plywood measuring 480mm x 290mm. You will probably wonder why I took these measurements. Well, soon I will be making new cabinets for my workshop and this jig will fit perfectly because of its dimensions. If your cabinets are larger or smaller, you can of course adjust the dimensions.

To cut this piece of plywood on your table saw, use a high TPI blade (mine was 80 TPI, which stands for 80 teeth per inch).

Are saw blades a big mystery to you, or do you want to know more about how to determine which saw blade you need for the task you are working on, be sure to check out my article, Understanding Table Saw Blades | Always Find The Perfect One. You will find a wealth of information that you will love.

Step 2 | Making the cutouts with the router

To ensure that all parts can stay in place, I made recesses. Where the water stones, diamond stone, and honey guide go, I made these with my palm router and a straight cutting bit with a diameter of 10 mm (0.39”).

Before getting started with the router, I marked all the places with a pencil where the parts would go. When working with the router and the straight cutting bit, I tried to get as close as possible to these lines without touching them. Later, when the recess was cut, I clamped a wooden rail to the base to allow the router to slide and get straight edges, a simple trick that resulted in a perfectly straight line.

How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools - Making the cutouts
How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools Making the cutouts

When milling, it is important not to mill away large pieces at once. Work slowly or cut the wood away in several steps, each time adjusting the depth of the router until the desired depth is reached. This depth was 10 mm (0.39”) for me. This depth is equal to the thickness of the diamond stone.

Step 3 | Making the cutouts with the Fortsner drill

The diamond stone is level with the surface because the recesses are carved at a 10 mm depth. I purposely did this so that it wouldn’t obstruct while sharpening.

How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools - Drilling holes with a Forstner bit
How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools – Drilling holes with a Forstner bit

This also means that the diamond stone will be difficult to get out of this recess once it is in place. That’s why I made a finger recess on the side. I did this by using the 30 mm Forstner drill on my drill press, and drill a hole just on the edge of the recess. By drilling until I was flush with the bottom of the recess, I created a cavity in the shape of a semicircle through which the diamond stone can be easily gripped.

With the same Forstner drill, I also made the recesses for the 5 jars with a polishing compound that came with the leather strap. These were also drilled 10 mm (0.39″) deep so that they rise just above the surface.

Step 4 | Placing the wooden stop blocks

This, in my opinion, is what makes this jig so clever. In the future, these pause blocks will allow me to save a ton of time. I can quickly and easily change the depth of the chisel in the honey guide because of these stop blocks.

Sharpening angles for chisels and plane iron vary. For future time savings and sharper cuts, it is also preferable to sharpen a micro bevel on your chisel. You must use a different angle to create this micro bevel. I’ve listed them in the table below for you so that you can have a fair idea of the sizes and angles that are used for sharpening.

Check out my other articles below where I show you all the steps I take to sharpen chisels and hand plane blades with the help of this jig:

Hand toolDistanceAngle
Chisel Primary bevel40 mm / 1.57″25-degree
Chisel Micro bevel30 mm / 1.18″30-degree
Plane iron (low angle plane, 12 degree bed plane)50 mm / 1.96″25-degree
Plane iron (standard angle plane, 45 degree bed plane)38 mm / 1.49″30-degree
How to make a sharpening jig for hand tools – Chisel & plane iron sharpening angles

I made the stop blocks from a piece of plywood that was the same thickness as the height. With my crosscut sled, I cut these into 4 equal pieces of 5 cm (1.96″). These blocks I attached to the base at 50, 40, 38, and 30 mm from the edge by fixing them with wood glue and reinforcing them with a brad nail.

How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools - Installing the stopblocks
How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools – Installing the stopblocks

Step 5 | Finishing the sharpening jig for hand tools

The final step in making this sharpening jig for hand tools is the finishing touches I did to make this jig just that little better.
First, I made a chamfer of the edges around the jig. By making the edges less sharp, you cannot injure yourself. It also gives the jig a clean finished look.

How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools - Finishing the sharpening jig for hand tools
How to make a Sharpening Jig for Hand tools – Finishing the sharpening jig for hand tools

Rubber anti-slip pads were then placed on the underside as the next step. I utilized the anti-slip layer that was included with the water stones for this. I used contact cement to attach the 4 little pads, each measuring 2 by 2 cm (0.78″ x 0.78″), to the bottom of the jig at the corners. In this manner, even if I apply additional force to the jig, it will remain in place. This improves both the safety and the simplicity of usage of the hand tool sharpening jig.

As the last step in building this sharpening jig for hand tools, I added a protective covering to make sure the jig would last for a long time. You can use whatever you choose, but I did this with linseed oil. If you want a complete explanation of all your options for finishing wood, I recommend reading my piece, 4 Types Of Wood Finishes. When and how should I use what A Simple Guide. The knowledge in this article might help you choose the best course of action for your project.

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I hope this article on how to make a sharpening jig for hand tools was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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Christophe, founder of
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